Vengeful is the sequel to Vicious, and it’s a follow up that I’ve been excited to read since it was released in 2018. I loved Vicious, and while I was a little nervous about reading the follow up and whether it would live up to my, admittedly high, expectations, I had to give it a go.
A super-powered collision of extraordinary minds and vengeful intentions V. E. Schwab returns with the thrilling follow-up to Vicious.
Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.
But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought – and will use her newfound power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.
Vengeful, and Vicious before it, looks at ExtraOrdinaries – people with superhuman abilities, typically gained through near-death experiences. It’s a fantastic concept, and I love the variety of powers that Schwab has created, which go a long way beyond your fairly standard powers of flight, invisibility etc. You really do need to read Vicious before tackling this novel – you’ll miss out on too much of the background otherwise.
Vengeful picks up the story of Victor and Eli some five years after the events of Vicious. Like the first novel, it jumps around in time, so that the reader can see what each has been up to since these two archenemies last met. It’s fair to say that neither of them has had a particularly good time of things, albeit for very different reasons. Victor is suffering a great deal as a direct result of the events in Vicious. I don’t want to go into specifics, but his problems are getting worse, leaving him searching desperately for a cure or for something to nullify the symptoms, or at least make them bearable / controllable.
And Eli… well, Eli has also suffered, although I don’t want to spoil that for you, either. I actually felt a bit sorry for him though, which is saying something! One thing I really liked about this novel was getting Eli’s backstory, going back into his childhood until the time he meets Victor. I thought that this added a lot to his character – it explains a lot about him, yet also adds an element of tragedy to the tale, in that it seems a shame that he and Victor went their separate ways.
Vengeful introduces some new and interesting ExtraOrdinaries into the mix, most notably Marcella, who, craving power, rights a few wrongs before taking over Merit. She is dangerous and volatile, and while I don’t think I ever decided who out of Victor and Eli was the bad guy – neither really qualifies as good – Marcella is most definitely one of the bad guys. That said, I thought she was a fantastic character. Strong, determined, and powerful – she has everything she wants, and I have to admit that I cheered her along a little, particularly as she sought revenge against her mobster husband. Marcella gathers other ExtraOrdinaries to her to compensate for her weaknesses, including the wonderful June, who has a superb ability. Again, I don’t want to spoil what it is that she does as it’s not revealed until later in the novel, but I thought that June’s character, and particularly her power, was an ingenious creation on Schwab’s part.
I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy Vengeful quite as much as I enjoyed Vicious. I liked it, but I found the constant jumping back and forth in time a little confusing, and felt that the novel spent too long on the past sections, while the present-day story was over a little too quickly. I also felt that Victor took a bit of a backseat here, with more of the story given over to Eli and Marcella. That said, there were some nice elements in the novel showing how the authorities were trying to deal with ExtraOrdinaries, and the characterisation and writing were, of course, superb.
Vengeful ends leaving a few unanswered questions, and so I think that there might be at least one more instalment to come in this series, and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.